Apple Orchard Falls Trail and Cornelius Creek Circuits Trail

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Thunder Ridge Wilderness

Apple Orchard Falls Trail and Cornelius Creek Circuits Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bedford, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 7.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,247 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

Hike begins at the Apple Orchard Fall Trailhead. Basically, it is a circuit of AT, Cornelius Creek Trail, Apple Orchard Falls Trails, with a side hike on the AT towards the Apple Orchard Mountain summit.

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

This trail is a probably closer to hard than moderate, and we clocked the loop at 9.7 miles. Be prepared for steep and rocky terrain, and equipped to cross streams several times. We went after heavy rains, and the creek level was very high. On the other hand, the rain made for a gorgeous hike, and the falls are incredible. Definitely recommend this one, but be prepared to get wet, and have the proper footwear. And don’t forget the camera! Can also be done as a much shorter out and back if you start loop counter clockwise, and double back after the big falls.

hiking
7 days ago

Downhill for the first half, uphill for the second half. Gorgeous hike though - plenty of waterfalls. The pups loved the water. First day of good weather after four solid days of rain so had to take off our shoes to cross two areas, but not sure if in dry weather that would be needed. Lightly trafficked except the first and last 1 mile which was a little bit busier.

hiking
26 days ago

Amazing hike along streams and waterfalls almost the entire trail loop. Has quickly become one of my favorites!

hiking
1 month ago

My daughters and I went on a cool, dry day in April and it was gorgeous. I do recommend going clockwise as it saves the good stuff for the end. It seemed longer than seven miles and my daughters phone recorded ten.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

Fun trail, took the dogs and would be good for older kids too. Saw a small snake. Crowded when I went but it was near the beginning of the quarantine and not unexpected. Good elevation at the end, definitely not easy due to incline.

hiking
1 month ago

My daughter, her boyfriend and I decided to do this hike on a Sunday. We loved it and will do it again. the waterfalls are so beautiful and worth the hike. It took us a while because we took our time and even had a picnic.

hiking
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
2 months ago

Wow! This was HARD! Well worth the hike for the waterfall view. VERY rocky (yes, duh, it’s a mountain but...) and very few pathways without balancing rocks. Definitely be prepared the cross the creek a few times, if you don’t have water proof boots... get some! And bring trash bags still. It was a great hike though. Lots of gnats, saw one snake, lots of pretty water!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Started the hike on a cool winter day. Hiked counterclockwise on the Cornelius Creek/Apple Orchard Fall Trails Loop first. Cornelius Creek was spectacular, with plenty of fast moving rapids caused by winter runoff. Unfortunately, because it was at peak, some of the creek crossings were challenging. While there were a couple of bridges available. there was one wide, deep crossing that was difficult. After nearly failing it the cold, rushing water, I spent thirty minutes try to find a relatively safe point to ford. Thankfully, I had waterproof boots and water-resistant pants, but still got slightly damp. Near the junction of the Cornelius and North Creeks, there are a pair of bridges to cross. Saw a few trout anglers fishing in the North Creek while enroute to the Apple Orchard Creek. The ascent along the Apple Orchard Falls Trail was not difficult. The Falls are about two/thirds of the way up the trail, and it was beautifiul. There are more wooden bridges, stairs, and platforms around the Falls to get better view and take pictures. This is were my biggest complaint about the hike begins. The blaze markings around the Falls are terrible! Spent another half-hour searching for two different blazes after finding a switchback marking. Not sure if the trail markings are better if one is descending the Apple Orchard Fall Trail. Before returning to the parking lot, I took the AT eastward to hike the Apple Orchard Mountain. This added less than three miles to the Apple Orchard Falls Circuit. It is a steady, moderately rocky climb that is well marked with several small switchbacks. At the summit, the landscape becomes a windswept, highland bald with a radar facility at the top. (This used to be the site of the old Bedford Air Station, which was decommissioned in the 1970s). There are some great views of the Arnold Valley to the north and the Terrapin Mountain to the south. Overall, the trail condition was barren, with several water crossings and a few icy spots. Surprisingly, it was dry with very few muddy spots.

6 months ago

This is a neat little gem. The trail to the falls is a little over 2 miles out and back an is a beautiful low land hike. Lots of neat rock formations and cliffs. Tha last ten minutes out is a little dicey as there are many steep man made stairs at the approach of the falls to negotiate but overall I loved it

Love this trail! This is the second time we did this trail and counter clockwise is a little easier and more rewarding with views at the end of the loop.

hiking
7 months ago

If you start on the apple orchard falls trail and go counter clockwise it is really steep for about 2 miles and is tough on the ankles and knees. There's only one great outlook the whole hike and if you go when it hasn't rained in a while the waterfall is non-existent.

hiking
8 months ago

Wanted to see the guillotine ... nice country mountainside hike. FAA Tower looks cool. Steep Rocky near scramble to Guillotine.

hiking
8 months ago

A well marked trail. Active terrain, typical of AT. Hiked loop counterclockwise... A steady downhill on Apple Orchard Trail, but making for a strenuous climb back up on Cornelius Creek Trail . No summit, but a small break in the trail with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiked Labor Day weekend, and unfortunately the flow of water was extremely light, so not much to see in the way of cascading falls.

hiking
9 months ago

It was a fun trail, it was more difficult than expected, though. I recommend starting at the bottom and climbing up to the falls instead of the other way around, climbing up after already climbing down was painful. I believe there's a way to get to the trail from the bottom, though I could be mistaken. Stopped for a picnic at the beautiful falls, very nice view.

hiking
10 months ago

Wonderful view love it

hiking
10 months ago

Great trail! Saw deer and the emerald green blanket of pal ants and moss we beautiful! About a mile on the at finished the loop. Highly recommend for a day hike

hiking
rocky
Tue May 07 2019

Challenging second half with an easy beginning. Had some beautiful views of waterfalls.

Mon Apr 29 2019

night a big fall but a great little hike

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
washed out
Sat Apr 20 2019

hiking
rocky
Sun Mar 31 2019

The falls and creek were beautiful. If you go counterclockwise, the best part of the trail is first. It’s downhill following along a creek - with many smaller “falls” and the sound of the water to keep your interest. However, just before halfway - the trail turns uphill, with some challenging hills. (20%-37% Grade). There are very few breaks from the strenuous climb - but a few great views (especially if the trees are still bare.) It took us just under 5 hours total - with several breaks and stops to take pictures. The trail was well marked and easy to follow, with most downed trees clear. However, there was a dead tree next to the trail that appeared to be close to falling.

hiking
Thu Feb 28 2019

First off, the falls are absolutely gorgeous. This makes the whole hike worth it. However, I would call this more of a difficult hike than a moderate hike. I did this hike with my husband and our dog. We did the Apple Orchard Falls Trail to the Cornelius Creek Circuit, then took the Appalachian trail as a loop back to the parking lot. We went counterclockwise per some of the other reviews, and this was a great choice. My watch gps put this loop about 9 miles. It took about 6 hours in total (with a picnic lunch break included). On the Cornelius Creek part of the hike, there were two points where you have to cross a stream to continue on the trail. If it had been warmer, we would have taken off our boots/socks and waded across. Since it was cold, we did some rather difficult rock hopping to get across. If our dog didn't mind wading through cold water, this would have been impossible for her to cross. There were also parts of the trail which were sketchy at best, but the trail was always well marked and we never felt like we were lost or off track. Overall, this is a fairly strenuous hike with worthwhile views; would recommend, just come prepared.

Sat Dec 29 2018

I wouldn’t say this is a moderate trail, but very fun. Definitely have to pay attention to the trail markers. Also, make sure to wear the right shoes. I decided to wear my Nike’s (rookie mistake maybe). During an impromptu photo op on a fallen log (at the midway point of the falls), as I was making my way back across the log, I took a 4 foot tumble into the ravine. I saw stars to say the very least. Expect steep inclines, and some climbing over fallen trees and natural rocks. Beautiful scenery (we went a little before Springtime). I would definitely recommend going after a heavy rain, just so you can enjoy the full effect of the falls. Pack something to eat for a day trip - you’ll be pretty hungry by the bottom of the trail. It took my husband, our dog, and me about 6 hours to complete the trail. Our dog was free leashed, me and my husband are mid 20’s and kept a pretty steady pace.

Mon Oct 08 2018

This trail kicked our butts! The "moderate" rating is misleading, this is a tough one. If you do the whole loop, you'll scramble over some boulders and cross water a few times. We went shortly after some rain, so we actually had to take off our hiking boots and wade across a few times. The falls are breathtaking. Overall a challenging but rewarding hike. We did not bring our dog, and I'm glad we didn't. This trail would be impossible with a dog.

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